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NMSU?s student success navigators prepare for sophomores

With fall 2016 classes underway at New Mexico State University, the student success navigators are gearing up for their next challenge. The second-year retention initiative will be working with sophomores for the first time.


Two women (left) and a man talk around a table.
New Mexico State University?s student success navigators, under the direction of Marissa Macias (center), are preparing to work with the sophomore class for the first time this fall. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

The student success navigators are a peer mentoring system that works with both the freshmen and sophomore classes to assist in the students? success. Every freshman and sophomore student is assigned a navigator, which is determined by academic college. The 25 navigators consists of three full-time staff members and 22 graduate assistants including 11 new graduate assistants hired to work with this year?s freshmen class.

?I think we learned a lot about our student population in year one and how we can best serve them,? said Marissa Macias, cross-campus adviser and program director of the student success navigators. ?One of the benefits of the navigator program is it can be very individualized to student?s needs.

?We?re really going to focus in the sophomore year, not so much in helping students solve problems, but going through the critical thinking skills necessary to look at a problem and for them to figure out what questions do I really need to ask, how could I have fixed this myself, what campus resources can I really use. We?re going to help with the transition of them becoming their own navigators.?

Macias said the student success navigators will focus on getting sophomores familiar with higher-level campus resources such as searching for internships by working with career services and connecting with their academic departments.

?That?s the goal of the program, by the end of the sophomore year you are able to navigate the campus community somewhat on your own,? she said. ?You?re never going to be on your own when you?re here, because there?s so many resources, but it takes time to learn how to go to college.?

The student success navigators have learned from a couple of the challenges of the first year and adapted new strategies such as attending the summer orientation sessions and meeting the freshmen prior to classes starting and exploring new ways to contact students by speaking to freshmen classes and creating a non-academic course in Canvas to provide information.

While the services offered to freshmen and sophomores do vary a bit, the main objective of the student success navigator being a resource for students and developing a relationship remains the same, Macias said.

?We?re still here to help you with financial aid questions, with working with faculty, the services provided aren?t really that different between the freshman year and sophomore year, it?s the level of issues we are trying to help you with and what role do you play in that,? she said.

Macias said she was proud of the hard work in the first year especially the partnerships that were established with the academic colleges.

?We were surprised how many students hit an issue whether that was academically, maybe with financial aid, and just assumed that was the end of the road, but the navigators were able to step in and say did you talk with your academic adviser, did you know about this scholarship, did you know about this appeal process, and take them through some of the procedural aspects that for those of us who have been here for a long time that?s day to day life, but for a freshman how would you know that exists if you weren?t led to that resource.?

For more information visit http://navigators.nmsu.edu.